I was overwhelmed by the positive response I got from that 3,000-word manifesto. I was so pleased to see that so many catechetical leaders, teachers, and catechists share such an audacious vision with me.
I have to tell you that the process of articulating that vision was incredibly helpful for me. Getting it out of my head and onto the screen gave life to the ideas. They became less about dreams and more about a future reality.
Do you have a dream?
Do you dream about what your parish or school would be like if things were different . . . if things were better?
I wrote To Heal, Proclaim, and Teach not to just share my vision but to show how a vision for the Kingdom of God is already coming into reality in many areas of the Church today and throughout our history. I wanted to write a book to help people discover a new way of seeing Catholic ministry and provide the tools they need to make that vision a reality.
Here’s the thing…
We need people like you to lead the way.
I wrote about some of the leading ministers, ministries, and movements in the book. You’ll recognize some of the names: LifeTeen, FOCUS, Search, Kairos, Christ Renews His Parish, Catechesis of the Good Shepherd, Theology on Tap, Vacation Bible School, Church of the Nativity, ND Vision, Echo, the Alliance for Catholic Education, Mass Impact . . . the list goes on. The people taking charge of these ministries are showing us a new way of seeing our future.
It’s time for you to take up the torch as well.
You have been called. You are on he path. What is that vision for the future of your ministry that God is placing before you?
If you need help figuring that out, try this:
The Airport Test
In his book about evaluating new business ideas, Will It Fly?, Pat Flynn shared a thought-exercise at the beginning of the book that really made a big impact on me. He called it “The Airport Test.” It goes like this:
Imagine running into a close friend five years from now who you haven’t seen in a very long time. She asks how you’ve been and you are able to say, “AMAZING! Life couldn’t be better.”
Pat, then, asks the question:
“What’s happening in your life five years from now that makes you respond like this?”
Now, let’s apply this to your ministry.
If five years from now your ministry was AMAZING, how would you describe it?
Take out your phone and record yourself having this imaginary conversation. Don’t think about it too much or outline it. Just talk into the recorder.
Save that recording.
Listen to it later today.
Then listen to it again tomorrow.
You have just described a vision for your evangelizing ministry.
Now, time to go make that vision a reality.
I’m not big on mission statements. They are too long and almost impossible to remember.
Most compelling leaders and great companies, however, have articulated their visions in such a way that they are easy to remember.
These aren’t mission statements so much as vision statements. And they are not necessarily something you would post to your website or in your employee handbook.
They are, instead, rallying cries behind an idea. They point us towards a vision of a different world.
I’m kind of a collector of these statements. I’ve used them to help articulate my vision for life and the work that I do.
Pick one or a few of the statements below and fill in the blanks.
What would best describe that perfect future five years from now when it comes to your ministry?
To be a __________ when __________.
Always __________, always.
I envision a church that __________.
Imagine if __________.
I remember when __________.
Here is what I know for sure: __________.
People are so used to __________, that they cannot see __________.
This I know to be true __________.
We are creating a __________ that __________.
We are THE __________ parish.
A Vision Journal
Do you keep a journal? I don’t have a specific book that I turn to as a diary each day, but I would say that I do journal from time to time. The process of writing things down is very helpful in solidifying ideas and clarifying thoughts.
As you begin to dream and visualize what the perfect ministry is like, start writing those ideas down.
Most of all, write down the stories you encounter in your life and in your parish or school that illustrate an example of your vision coming into reality.
Come back to this journal from time to time to help strengthen your resolve to turning your vision into a reality.
Here we go!
If we truly do want to do things differently in the Church today, if we want to bring people back into the Church or engage the ones that are already here, we need to imagine a new way of doing Church. And we need to do this together.
That is what Jesus did. He proclaimed the Good News of a Kingdom that was already coming into reality but not yet fully realized. He shared that vision with this disciples, who in turn articulated it to others.
The same goes for us. What vision for the future is already coming into reality but not yet fully realized? This is the Good News we can proclaim to the people around us.
What is your vision?
I would love to read your ideas in the comments.
Put yourself out there. Post your vision statement below.
(Special thanks to the Chicago Association of Religious Educators (CARE) for inviting me in to speak with them this week. We used this process together to think of a new way of seeing our catechetical ministries.)